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THE BOOK OF GEMS
The book of gems. The poets and artists of Great Britain. Edited by S.C. Hall.
London: Saunders & Otley, 1836.
[2], xvi, 304 p., [4] pl. (on 2 leaves) : steel-engr. illus. ; 22.3 cm. (8°)

An illustrated anthology of poetry selected by the writer and journal editor Samuel Carter Hall. The series, combining the literary and pictorial attractions of the annuals, eventually ran to three volumes, with the second being published in 1837 and the third in 1838, with a second edition in 1866. This volume contains the English poets from Chaucer to Prior. The two final leaves of plates are printed on both sides with poets' fascimile signatures, and are signed 'Chas. J. Smith'. The engravings are protected by tissue guards. The initial leaf advertises that the work is available in a large paper edition with the plates on India paper at 3 guineas, and 'in a variety of Elegant Bindings, ...'.

Copy Notes With a four-page catalogue of recent books from Saunders & Otley bound at end as issued (q.v.). Presentation inscription on front free-endpaper Sir John Soane, / &c &c / with Mr S.C. Hall's / respects. Letter from Hall enclosed, written from Wentworth Cottage, Fulham Fields, and dated 4 November [1836?]: ... I hope you will do me the / honour to accept the volume that accompanies this - in which you / will perceive I have introduced / your very beautiful picture / by Mr Eastlake. This refers to the engraving on p. 61 after the oil-painting 'The Cave of Despair' (SM Inv. P243) illustrating the episode in Book I, Canto 9 of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene when Una delivers the Red Cross Knight from the Cave of Despair, commissioned by Soane in 1830 for 150 guineas, to hang on the east wall of the North Drawing Room at Lincoln's Inn Fields. An earlier surviving letter of Hall's, dated 28 August 1834, asks for permission for the picture to be removed to the engraver (Priv. Corr. I.E.1.2). Hall's letter continues: I shall feel highly gratified / if I find that this book of / specimens of "British Poets and / British Artists" meets your approval. / - It would indeed be a rich / compensation to me for the // labour I have bstowed upon . it to know that it was, even / to a slight degree, satisfactory / to one whose taste and skill / in such glorious arts are unequaled / in our age. But I trust / you will bear in mind that / I have had to cater for the / many rather than the few.// I am about to prepare / a second volume of the Poets / from Prior - may I hope / that from your noble collection, / I may be suffered to engrave // some other embellishment for / my work. .... Soane died two months later in January 1837, and there is no further correspondence with Hall in the Soane archive.

Binding C19th publishers' vellum, gilt-stamped on spine with title within a decorative frame.

Reference Number 1434


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